Big 12 expansion: League to meet to propose membership to BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF

Big 12 expansion plans are coming to fruition after Texas and Oklahoma’s sudden departures to the SEC this summer. The Big 12 are set to invite BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to join the conference in the near future if the league presidents vote in the affirmative at a meeting scheduled for next week, sources say Dennis Dodd from CBS Sports.

All four teams could join the Big 12 ahead of scheduled departures from Texas and Oklahoma in 2025.

The three programs currently members of the American (Cincinnati, Houston, UCF) must give the conference 27 months notice before their departure; they would each be required to pay an early termination fee of $ 10 million, although both terms are negotiable, according to AAC commissioner Mike Aresco.

BYU currently operates as an independent and could join the Big 12 without significant notice.

Texas and Oklahoma must give the Big 12 18 months’ notice if they plan to leave the conference before their rights-granting agreement expires in 2025. Two years of revenue distribution, approaching $ 80 million dollars per team, would also go to the Big 12.

The goal of the four-team expansion would be to return the league to its original 12-member roster, with the aforementioned four teams combining to fill some of the void created when the league’s two top programs (Texas and Oklahoma ) have abandoned the Big 12.

The Big 12 just wrapped up two days of meetings where conference decision makers focused on future membership.

“After two days of consultation with the athletic directors of the permanent members of the Big 12 conference,” Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said on Wednesday. “The Eight AD remain committed to making the Big 12 one of the nation’s premier sporting conferences and look forward to working with our Presidents and Chancellors to strengthen the league. Future exploration by the group will continue to focus on options that best position the long-term strength of the conference. ”

If BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF accept offers for the Big 12, the conference could allow Texas and Oklahoma to leave before their contractual rights expire in 2025. That would only be possible if the Big Eight Schools 12 remaining were fully funded. of the current media rights agreement ($ 37 million per school).

For the four schools invited to the Big 12, this decision would be a giant leap in terms of income. American schools currently generate an average of $ 7 million in media rights revenue per year. The 12 large schools currently average $ 37 million per year.

Industry sources tell CBS Sports that the Big 12 lost at least 40% of its value with the departure of Texas and Oklahoma. However, the reconfigured Big 12 with four additions could earn $ 20-25 million per season, softening the financial blow.

“These are the four that will allow us to enter favorably into this future negotiation,” said a source within the Big 12. “What we are trying to do will give us the best opportunity to maintain our CFP status and our Power Five status. . ”

Bowlsby told CBS Sports last week that he didn’t think the Big 12 was in danger of losing its authority.

“I have no particular reason to be worried,” Bowlsby said.

“Power Five” is a brand label that defines not only a football program, but an entire university. This can affect a school’s ability to win research grants, hire staff and faculty, and even impact enrollment.

One Big 12 source defined continued Power Five status this way: Equal College Football Playoff shares with other conferences (SEC, Big Ten, ACC, Pac-12) and a spot on the CFP selection committee.

Under the current CFP contract, the Power Five Leagues each receive $ 66 million for their mere participation in the process. The group of five remaining leagues shared $ 90 million. The Power Five conferences each have a representative on the 13-person committee. The Group of Five conferences (American, USA Conference, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt) have two combined representatives.

Aresco practically confirmed the Big 12’s interest in three of his league’s teams, although he covered himself on Friday: “I think you’d say they are apparently looking to the American. We don’t know what is happening. is going to happen next week. “

Athletic’s Max Olson first flagged the four programs targeted by the Big 12, while Action Network’s Brett McMurphy first reported such a move could happen this month.

What does this mean for the Big 12? Here are some potential benefits as he decides on his future membership.

Create a presence in key television markets

Adding the aforementioned four teams wouldn’t fill all the void left by Texas and Oklahoma. However, the addition of UCF would give the Big 12 a presence in Orlando’s main television market. Cincinnati, meanwhile, would bring a bigger Midwestern imprint to West Virginia. BYU would add to the Salt Lake City, Utah market and an international fan base. Houston, of course, would help the Big 12 maintain a strong presence in Texas, even if the most important Lone Star State team leaves and the second most important (Texas A&M) left in the final round of realignment.

Television markets may not be the driving force this realignment cycle, but big cities with passionate fan bases make a difference when it comes to deciding which teams to add. This will give the Big 12 a nice portfolio to sell to potential distributors – both traditional streaming and over-the-top.

Maintain a high level of competition

All four of the Big 12 programs have achieved significant success as members of the Group of Five over the past decade. None of them have matched Oklahoma’s level in college football playoff appearances, but they’ve been just as competitive as the Longhorns, if not more.

BYU and Cincinnati are having great seasons of all time. The Cougars finished 11-1 with a No.11 final in 2020 and produced No.2 pick in the NFL Draft, quarterback Zach Wilson. The Bearcats enjoyed an undefeated AAC championship run and narrowly fell to Georgia in the Peach Bowl. Coach Luke Fickell is considered one of the best coaches in the country and will almost certainly be a prime target for the Power Five schools once the silly training season begins.

UCF has also enjoyed success as a college football juggernaut. The Knights enjoyed three straight double-digit winning seasons from 2017-19, going undefeated in 2017 and winning 12 straight games in 2018. Prior to that, Houston was the AAC class, with 13-1 and beating Florida State in the Peach Bowl during the 2015-16 season.

This high level of play is important if and when the 12-team playoffs emerge. The current deal, after all, calls for the top six champions in the conference to receive an automatic offer.

Building on the benefits of recruiting

If the Big 12 is going to expand, it might as well help the conference as a whole when it comes to recruiting. Moving to cities like Houston, Orlando, Salt Lake City and Cincinnati would give every team in the conference a chance to play in front of a ton of high school players in talent-rich areas.

For example: Florida currently has 16 of the top 100 prospects in the class of 2022, according to the 247Sports Composite, while Ohio State has four and Utah has one. That’s 20 of the top 100 prospects in the new states that they would target in addition to the 15 already in the state of Texas.

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